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2021 Preview: Big Spring Bulldogs

Coach: John Sinkovich

Classification: 4A

League/division: Mid-Penn Conference – Capital

2020 record: 5-3, 0-3

Postseason: Did not qualify

RETURNING LEADERS:

Passing: Comp-Att., Yards, TD

Not available

Rushing: Att-Yards., Avg., TD

Not available

Receiving: Rec.-Yards, Avg., TD

Not available

KEY PLAYERS: 

Dillon Wakefield, sr., FB-LB-P-KR; Connor Black, jr., LB; Andrew Adams, sr., OL-DL; Jay Roberds, jr., OT-DE; Ethan Eisenberg, jr., QB; Logan Schmidt, sr., RB-DB; Logan Brennan, so., OL; Evan Header, sr., OL; Aaron Matthews, jr., WR-DB; Eli Hasco, sr., OLB-RB; Seth Griffie , sr., OLB; Andrew Witter, jr., WR; Caleb Massare, sr., WR-CB; Dakoda Garman, sr., LB-RB; Collin Roberts, sr., K; Tucker Lowery, Sr., WR-DB; Jayden Jones, DT.

OUTLOOK: Big Spring’s recent re-alignment from the Colonial Division to the Capital gives the Bulldogs a chance to be more competitive on a week to week basis. But that’s not to say that winning games in the division won’t be a challenge. Big Spring’s schedule includes a reigning 1A state champion in Steel-High, a Middletown program that has grown used to dominating the district tournament, a 2A playoff regular in Camp Hill, and a physical Boiling Springs squad that has no intention of surrendering the “Battle of the Springs” trophy to the Bulldogs. Throw in a non-conference contest against Colonial contender Shippensburg — with a Little Brown Jug at stake — and yeah, you’re not going to find too many holes in Big Spring’s schedule. Given the hurdles in front of them, this could very well be a difficult year for the Bulldogs, but games should be close and if their solid core of players can make plays when it matters, this could also be a very successful season for Big Spring.

3 THINGS TO KNOW
1. Learning how to win
There’s reason to be excited in Bulldog country as coach Joe Sinkovich’s crew is coming off a 5-3 campaign, just the program’s second winning season over the past 17 years. More than 40 players, including a solid core group of returning juniors and seniors, have come out for this year’s squad. Big Spring enters this fall coming off its first full offseason of workouts. Sinkovich, in his third year at the helm, says that now that his players have a taste of winning, they’re hungry for even more success this season. “The kids know the system and they’re able to concentrate on the fundamentals of being a good team,” Sinkovich said. “Part of the process is learning how to win and then having that expectation to win games.”

2. QB stability
Decisions had to be made last season when the Big Spring coaching staff decided their best athlete — Jack Shulenberger — could make more plays for the team in open space, so they shifted him from quarterback to a wide receiver/running back role. The Bulldogs inserted 6-foot Ethan Eisenberg into the QB spot, Shulenberger shined in his new role, and the rest is history as Big Spring ended its 2020 campaign on a 4-1 tear. Shulenberger is gone now, but Eisenberg — who racked up seven pass TDs, three rush TDs, and nearly 500 passing yards — is back as a junior. “He came up in a tough spot, played really well as a sophomore, and gave us what we needed in the passing game,” Sinkovich said. “He has an understanding of our offense and what defenses do. One of the biggest things he’s done since he started playing is he’s on film watching teams and seeing where he can be successful. He’s not satisfied, he takes responsibility on himself, which makes him a better player.”

3. Always on the field
The big college interest hasn’t materialized just yet for senior Dillon Wakefield, but the versatile 5-foot-11, 205-pound prospect doesn’t really take “no” for an answer when it comes to being on the field. Wakefield brings a hard-nosed presence to the Bulldogs lineup from his fullback role in the Wing-T offense, where he averaged 100 rushing yards per game and scored eight TDs. He doubles as a middle linebacker, and showcased a sense for the ball with more than a dozen TFLs. Not only is Wakefield Big Spring’s punter (33 yards per punt), you’ll also see No. 21 returning kicks, where he boasted a 19.5-yard return average. Sinkovich is excited for what Wakefield will now show on the field after a dedicated offseason training program. “Dillon is a tough runner inside, and teams have to account for that and try to stop him,” Sinkovich said. “He’s that type of kid that doesn’t want to come off the field. He just loves to play, and you see that week in and week out. We’re pretty excited where he’s gotten himself with his offseason strength and quickness. He’ll be a great player for us, and I know he wants to play some college ball after this.”


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